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Wales TUC's Shavanah Taj responds to today's Welsh Government announcement on the easing of Covid restrictions

Commenting on today's Welsh Government announcement on plans to ease Covid restrictions, Shavanah Taj, Wales TUC General Secretary, said:

"We welcome the relatively cautious approach that the First Minister has set out this afternoon.

"But it’s vital that these changes are now effectively communicated to workers across Wales and that employers are reminded of their legal obligations to keep their workforce safe. It’s vital that workers know what they have a right to expect from their employer.

"We have long-held concerns about the extent to which Covid regulations have been monitored and enforced at a workplace level.

Today’s statement states that ‘reasonable measures will legally be required to manage the risk of coronavirus but they will be for each organisation to determine based on the outcome of their risk assessment’. Yet our research has consistently shown that under 50% of workers in Wales say that their employer has conducted a risk assessment. And only 1 in 4 say they’ve been consulted on any assessment – despite this being a legal requirement.

"The crisis has highlighted the extent to which our under-funded and neglected employment rights agencies are unable to properly enforce the law. This is not just unfair to workers but also represents a significant and ongoing public health risk.   

"This is equally true on the issue of ventilation. We know how important air flow is to reducing risk but only half of employers have made any adjustments to improve air quality. We’d like to see a renewed focus from the Welsh Government on this – including looking at the Belgian example of mandating carbon dioxide monitors in all workplaces.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government on reviewing workplace guidance and ensuring that vulnerable workers get the protection they need."